Living up to the hope - and the hype
"I recently had a discussion with someone who felt disappointed in Obama; he had not, this person complained, lived up to the high hopes of his supporters. My response apparently came as a surprise: I’m liking Obama more and more as he slogs through his second term."- Paul Krugman from his blog "The Conscience of a Liberal"
As is quite often the case, I find myself in agreement with Dr. Krugman.
I have mentioned here before that I was not a supporter of Barack Obama when he first ran for president. I supported Hillary Clinton and I was very disappointed that she did not win the Democratic Party's nomination in 2008.
After that, I became a grudging supporter of Obama. I voted for him of course. There was certainly no way I was going to vote for McCain and his ditsy sidekick, Palin, but I was never one of his starry-eyed supporters who thought that his election was going to change the world.
When he was elected, I was just glad to have an intelligent person in the White House, one who was able to speak in complete sentences and who didn't find it necessary to boast and swagger his way through his time in office.
Given the known proclivities of the Republican Party and the fact that they had spent eight long years destroying the economy and destroying the good will of the world toward this country, it didn't take a prophet to see that Obama's time in office was going to be difficult. Once the Republicans swore undying enmity and non-cooperation - the needs of the country be damned - it became even more obvious that Obama and his allies would have to fight tooth and nail for every inch of progress.
Still, in his first four years in office, he, with the help of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, was able to accomplish quite a bit, including what was, in Joe Biden's immortal words, "a big fucking deal" in health care reform. He started to wind down America's interminable wars. He found and eliminated Osama bin Laden. He kept the country safe from further attacks by foreign terrorists. (Unfortunately, domestic terrorists and their guns are a harder problem to solve.)
Since I had no particular expectations of him, I was not often disappointed. I would have liked to have seen more leadership on the environment and especially on the problem of global warming, but given the denialism that is so pervasive in the country, that problem is every bit as difficult as our domestic terrorists and their guns.
It has been a battle every day of his presidency. You can see it in his gray hair and sometimes hear it in his voice. He is a serious man with serious goals that he wants to achieve, and whether I agree with him or not - and sometimes I don't - I am fully convinced that he will always do what he thinks is best for the country, regardless of the political implications.
So, yes, as I see him struggling against overwhelming odds, trying to accomplish something good for the country and for the world, he has earned my respect and I like him better than I did on election day 2008.
With two years to go, I don't see his battle getting any easier, but, in the end, I think it will be won, and, even if he hasn't managed to live up to the hope and the hype of his most fervent early supporters, he will have been a good president and he will have earned a well-deserved rest.
And I believe that history will remember him kindly.